Stick with one simple program that will never let you down.
by Steve DiLello
There are so many programs, exercises and implements to choose from these days, it’s hard to know what you should be doing to make strength and muscle gains. Or maybe it’s what you should be doing after four weeks on one workout plan that worries you. Do yourself a favour: forget all the other options and focus just on this program. It’s guaranteed to work for as long as you use it, ensuring a lifetime of steady progress without plateaus.
HOW IT WORKS
- You’re going to concentrate on one or two major barbell exercises — the bench press, squat, deadlift or overhead press — each workout. These work the most muscle mass and will always challenge your body.
The intensity of each lift will progress over four weeks: The first week, you’ll do sets of eight reps using a moderate percentage of the heaviest load you can handle for one rep. The next week, you’ll go a little heavier and do five reps.
The following week, you’ll increase the intensity so you can perform only three reps, and then in Week 4, you’ll lighten things up. This “deload” week will refresh you to start the cycle again in Week 5. Add weight to each main lift every month and you’ll see big gains within weeks.
The remaining exercises are meant to work the muscles that are prime movers on the main lifts and to prevent muscle imbalances. They’ll also target your arms, abs and many other body parts you want to enhance.
To keep the program working long term, simply switch up the exercises slightly from month to month. For instance, swap the one-arm row for a bentover row next month (you can do this with the main lifts, too, although they won’t require it as frequently).
Figure out your max
- You can get a rough estimate of your max if you know how many reps you can perform with a certain weight. The formula to find your max is as follows (note that it’s most accurate in the five- to eight-rep range).
One-rep max = (weight x reps x 0.0333) + weight
- For example, a guy who can bench-press 100kg for six reps can probably do one rep with 120kg, but be conservative.
Perform each workout (Day 1, 2 and 3) once a week, resting for at least a day between each session.
HOW TO DO IT:
Perform the exercise pairs (marked “a” and “b”) as alternating sets. You’ll complete one set of “a”, rest, then one set of “b”, rest again, and repeat until all sets are complete. Perform the remaining exercises as straight sets.
The bench press, squat, deadlift and overhead press must be done with a certain percentage of your max — the heaviest load you can lift for one rep. If you don’t know your maxes, estimate them using the formula in “Figure Out Your Max” (see left). Over the page, you’ll see how the sets, reps and percentages look over four weeks.
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